Top 10 cities to watch in 2016:'s Eliza Owen

Top 10 cities to watch in 2016:'s Eliza Owen
Top 10 cities to watch in 2016:'s Eliza Owen


While the economic outlook for 2016 is weak, there are still locations across Australia that provide good investment opportunities.

With the latest data, I have identified the top 10 areas to watch in the year ahead, based on strong growth performance, cyclical growth expectations, upcoming developments and historical growth patterns.

While Sydney has been the clear growth winner in recent years, it is in a downswing of its current growth cycle so it is not on the Top 10 list. However, Regional NSW is set to be the winner in 2016, with four regional NSW cities topping the list.

Queensland also has a strong presence on the list, with a total of four metro and regional centres making the Top 10.

The following table lists the Top 10 cities to watch in 2016. 

Top 10 cities to watch in 2016:'s Eliza Owen


With cities such as Wollongong and Newcastle being considered as re-homing areas for displaced Syrian refugees, Tasmania continuing to pick-up its tourism market and Queensland boasting some large development projects, there are many emerging areas showing positive economic potential.

Here is my quick breakdown of why each identified area made the list...

City of Gosford, NSW

Suburbs within the City of Gosford enjoy a spill-over of wealth from Sydney in the form of residential investment and from tourism to the lakeside city. Despite enormous growth in 2015, regional NSW tends to lag a little behind Sydney. This is supported by historical growth patterns, therefore growth could continue into 2016.

Lake Macquarie Region, NSW

Lake Macquarie is popular with tourists who are seeking a quick getaway from Sydney, as it is only a two-hour drive from the Sydney CBD. The area contains suburbs with very affordable dwellings, some with strong rental yields. For owner occupiers, the area is popular with retirees and has a growing health care sector to support quality of life.

City of Newcastle, NSW

Newcastle has undergone tremendous development in the last few years. This has partially been the result of people and businesses being priced out of Sydney and seeking more affordable rent in a nearby city. As a result, the Central Coast has transformed over the last few years. Newcastle and Wollongong have also been named as areas to relocate Syrian refugees, which would encourage population growth and increase demand in the economy for a range of services; provided refugees are set up with adequate resources.

City of Shellharbour, NSW

The City of Shellharbour is another regional NSW area that is set to benefit from the Sydney wealth spill-over. Shellharbour is also home to the established City of Wollongong, which has excellent educational and medical facilities, as well as a beautiful coastal setting.

City of Whittlesea, VIC

This is more of a cyclical evaluation; where lower value properties are expected to follow the high end. It's also worth noting that as population growth remains high over the next decade (particularly in Melbourne as approximately one-third of migrants settle in Victoria), anywhere within reasonable distance and commute time to the CBD is likely to see long-term growth. Stockland survey data also suggests that Sydney buyers were registering their interest in Melbourne property, suggesting the appeal of Melbourne will continue in 2016 as residual wealth from Sydney is transferred to the relatively affordable Melbourne market.

Brisbane Metropolitan, QLD

Growth in Brisbane is expected to be partially out of cyclical movements. Historically, Brisbane usually peaks in capital growth after the Sydney and Melbourne markets. As Melbourne is likely coming into peak growth now, Brisbane could see higher value increases in 2016. It is worth noting that this could be mitigated by increases in home loan interest rates and slowed economic growth both globally and in Australia, plus slowed rates of migration to Queensland, which fell by approximately 22 per cent in the year to June 2015.

However, an increase in tourism may drive employment; attracting migration and dwelling demand in the future. According to Tourism Research Australia, Brisbane was the third top holiday destination of overseas visitors, followed by the Gold Coast, with the Sunshine Coast also featuring in the top 10. There are currently also large development programs happening around Brisbane, including a casino at the Queens Wharf site. It is worth making the distinction that this may not be a long-term growth driver, but if you are only looking at movements for the next few years then this area has potential.

City of Logan, QLD

The City of Logan is a growth centre, conveniently located between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Enormous development projects have been approved in the region, particularly in Beenleigh, where the town's CBD is set to see new residences, commercial offices, a new theatre, medical centre and café precinct. However, the highest growth potential is likely to be in surrounding suburbs where values remain relatively affordable.

Greater Hobart, TAS

Tasmania has presented some surprising growth results in 2015. The Hobart CBD and surrounding suburbs in particular have drawn many tourists. Hobart is regarded for its historic charm, with many heritage buildings preserved. Tasmania also has highly regarded produce, which, combined with trade subsidies provided by the federal government, will help to boost exports from Tasmania. As tourism and hospitality pick up in Tasmania, popular centres like Hobart could see further capital growth from employment, affordability and dwelling demand in 2016.

Gold Coast, QLD

According to Tourism Research Australia, the Gold Coast was the fourth most visited destination by tourists in the year to September 2015. The Gold Coast has also recently outperformed growth in both Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, suggesting the booming value of this area.

The Gold Coast is also set to host the Commonwealth Games in 2018. Chairman of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation, Nigel Chamier, has claimed that preparations for the games are under budget and ahead of schedule, enabling new sports facilities to be trialled in 2017. The government expects $2 billion worth of contracts across the Gold Coast and in other parts of the south-east corridor, in preparation and execution of the Games.

Finally, major residential developments are occurring in the Gold Coast CBD, including The Ruby Towers development, which is expected to be complete in six years time. Although the city centre has seen recent escalations in value, a spill-over of growth may also be expected in nearby suburbs such as Oxenford, Helensvale and Robina.

Sunshine Coast, QLD

As developers anticipate strong migration and affordability to drive dwelling demand, there has been increased construction activity on the Sunshine Coast. Part of the more general cyclical trend, which may see the south-east of Queensland see steady growth in the area, the Sunshine Coast also achieved steady capital growth over 2015. New developments in the region include a University Hospital set to open in late 2016.

Eliza Owen is the market analyst for She can be contacted here.

Eliza Owen

Eliza Owen

Property market analyst. I hold a first class honours degree in economics from the University of Sydney. I have been a regular economic commentator on FBI Radio, and have been a guest speaker on Triple J’s Hack, 702 ABC Radio, Sky News and at TEDxYouth Sydney. I have provided comment for various media outlets including The Guardian Australia, the Australian Financial Review, Pedestrian TV, the Daily Telegraph and more.

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